WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- Some may think that at the grand old age of 200 that things ought to be slowing down for the Watervliet Arsenal, but that does not seem the case as the arsenal announced today more than $10 million in new contracts for two different types of 155mm howitzer tubes for the U.S. Army.

These new contracts will add to the $4.3 million contract announced last month for experimental mortar work and to the more than $27 million in new work announced last spring, said Ray Gaston, the arsenal's chief of Production Planning and Control.

"This is great news in that these orders were not part of our planned workload for fiscal years 2014 or 2015," said Gaston. "Given an era of fiscal uncertainty in the U.S. defense budget, just trying to maintain production on planned work can be very challenging and so, when new work comes in each order is critical to sustaining the critical skill base that resides at the arsenal."

The two contracts require the arsenal to manufacture: 60-M284 155mm cannon tubes with a contract value of approximately $8 million; and 10-M776 155mm cannon tubes valued at nearly $2 million.

"The M284 contract will add to our current workload more than 13,000 hours of direct labor," said Diane Nelson, the arsenal's program manager for the order. "And I am very hopeful the Army will provide us a follow-on order sometime next year for more tubes."

The arsenal has not manufactured the M284 barrel since 2007 and the barrel goes on the Army's M109 155mm self-propelled howitzer, Nelson said.

"We will ship our first barrel in August 2014 and complete the contract in July 2015," Nelson said.

The M776 tube is for the M777 155mm lightweight howitzer, said George Roach, the arsenal's program manager for this order.

"Although this is not a new type of barrel for us to manufacture, we will try a new plating process in anticipation the new process will extend the life of the tube," Roach said. "If testing of the new plating process goes well, this could open the door for a significant amount of work for the arsenal."

Roach said that more than 2,200 direct labors hours will be added to the manufacturing schedule and that shipment of the barrels will begin in April 2014 and the last shipment is planned for June 2014.

The Watervliet Arsenal is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility and is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States having begun operations during the War of 1812. It celebrated its 200th anniversary on July 14, 2013.

Today's Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.

Page last updated Wed September 25th, 2013 at 00:00